Coping with Fertility Treatment when travelling abroad
TTC and going through treatment can be hard, and when you have the added factor of travelling abroad it can feel a bit overwhelming.
There are a few things you can do to help you feel more relaxed about starting treatment, and that will help you cope throughout treatment.
Focus on self-care
One of the things that gets forgotten when trying to conceive is to take care of ourselves emotionally. We put so much focus on eating right, having sex at the best times, avoiding doing activities that we enjoy and help us relax. Our mind is constantly on doing everything we can to conceive, and it makes us feel anxious, on edge and stuck in a rut.
Struggling to conceive is hard enough, but having to give up the things we enjoy and that help us relax just adds more insult.
We forget that we should still be happy, that TTC can take a long time, and it’s a long time to be sad and deny ourselves of the things that we enjoy.
We forget the little things that make us smile, and we tend to focus on what we don’t have and all the things that are missing from our lives, which makes us feel even worse.
Its time to start putting focus back on your emotional wellbeing. On doing things that make you happy, making time every day to do something (no matter how small) that makes you smile.
Realise how important you are, and how important it is to look after your emotional health. You can’t keep going every day if you are not looking after yourself and you are feeling like you are running on empty.
This is even more important if you are travelling for treatment. Plan in time for self care when you are organising your trip – think about the times you may feel the most anxious and how you could plan in something that will relax you and make you smile.
If you feel like your emotional health needs a bit of TLC, have a look through the below activities and give them a go. They are designed to put the focus back on you, so you can see all the things that you’ve achieved, remind you of the things that you enjoy, and give you the support that you need.
Create a ‘Thankful list’
Think of 3 things every day that you are thankful for – make a note of these and refer back to them when you are having a bad day or negative thoughts. Maybe keep a little notebook with you to write these down so you can look back over all the things you have written.
Recognise and celebrate your achievement
Create a ‘What I’ve got going for me’ journal:
- Make a list of your positive qualities
- Include in the list your past successes
- List your top 3 most fulfilling accomplishments in life so far
- List the biggest thing that you have overcome in order to be successful
Take time out to do something you enjoy
Allow yourself some time to do something that will relax you, take your mind off the treatment and re-charge yourself. This may be a hobby, going for a beauty treatment, an exercise class, or something like the cinema.
Write a journal
Writing in a journal reduces stress and anxiety and can allow you to vent frustrations and upset. It can also help you uncover strengths and solutions that you may not be able to see on a day to day basis, which will help you with your thankful and achievements list.
Join a support group
Attending a support group will show you that you are not alone in thinking you are a failure, others feel that about themselves too. It will show you that your feelings are completely natural. It will also offer you support, understanding and friendship. You may also find others in the group that are travelling abroad for treatment that you can talk to.
Create a ‘Daily happiness plan’
Think about all the things that you enjoy and make you smile. It can be something really small (speaking to a certain friend, reading a book), to something really big (having a weekend away). Once you’ve got a list you can plan something in to every day. Remember to think about planning things in for when you get back from having your treatment.
Please make time for yourself, you are so important.
Infertility can leave you feeling out of control of your life and your future, and then when you go through IVF it can feel like the process is out of your control, with all the timings, hospital visits and medications.
However, there are some things you can take control of, so you are making choices in the process and helping yourself feel better throughout treatment.
You can make sure you are eating healthily, avoiding alcohol, reducing/stopping caffeine, stopping smoking and getting enough rest. These things are so important for your body to be in the optimum state for conception.
You may feel that you don’t have any control over how you feel, but you do have full control. You can make a choice to be in the right mindset for going through treatment. It’s not easy, but there are people that can help if you need it. Reducing stress and anxiety, and working on your worries and fears will make the process of IVF better.
Take care of your emotional health. Infertility takes its toll emotionally and physically, so make sure you are being kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself harshly for how you feel, it is normal to feel upset, jealous, frustrated and a whole range of other feelings. What is important is that after a sad day, you pick yourself back up again and keep going. Plan in treats, organise time with friends that lift you up and spend time as a couple.
Although a lot of the process is out of your control, control the things you can –research your treatment so you can ask informed questions, research add on treatments so you are clear on what you do/don’t want, plan treats around your procedures to give you something to look forward to.
You could take control of planning your trip abroad – flights, where to stay, places you could visit while you are there.
Do what you can that will help you feel like you have some control and say in what happens.
It is good to take control of what you can – you can then know in your own mind that you have done everything you can to improve your chances.
Struggling with infertility can be an extremely lonely process. A lot of people struggling don’t tell friends or family, but it is so important to get support from somewhere. Infertility can leave you questioning everything: your future, your relationship, and most crucially your mental health.
Talking through your thoughts with someone who understands will help validate your feelings and make you feel less alone. It will also help you see more clearly to be able to take positive action to change how you feel.
There are lots of forms of support available – support groups, professional support (counsellors, coaches, hypnotherapists, acupuncturists), online fertility support (The Fertility Network) and don’t underestimate the support your friends and family will give you if you feel comfortable enough to confide in them. They may not fully understand but they can be great for having them there to listen when you need to vent, attending appointments with you or just making you smile when you are having a bad day.
Look for groups and people who have experience of travelling abroad who will have specific advice on things that helped them, and how they organised the trip and treatment.
Think about the support you may need after you return from treatment. You may feel alone after coming home after a lot of contact with the clinic, so plan in time with people that are supportive and will help keep you distracted.
I run a free Facebook support group called Surviving Infertility which you are very welcome to join for support, advice and comfort.
You can also find lots of resources on my website sarahbanks.coach which will be helpful, and my details for if you are struggling.
Sarah is a Fertility Coach and Mentor who supports couples and individuals through their fertility struggles, to help them manage their anxiety, look at other areas of their life that have become neglected and help them focus on getting themselves in the best emotional state for conceiving and coping through treatment.
For further information contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.